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Biomulch to Help Combat Dust Storm Hotspots

Iran mostly uses petroleum-based mulch to control particulate matters.Iran mostly uses petroleum-based mulch to control particulate matters.

The National Institute of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology has recently synthesized a biomulch that is claimed to be able to stabilize the soil in dust storm hotspots with minimum ecological impacts.

"Besides increasing stability in soil and rocks, the biomulch can delay erosion and decrease liquefaction in soil improvement projects," Fatemeh Tabandeh, the project executor, was quoted as saying by IRNA.

Mulching, which refers to applying a layer of material on the surface of soil, has long been used as a solution to prevent sand and dust storms all over the world.

The most common type used in Iran to control high-density particulate matters and fine dust spread in the air is petroleum-based mulch whose ecological impact is still being debated.

Critics say the substance reeks, blackens the land and increases the area’s temperature, causing warm and stinky winds. The mulch also threatens flora and fauna in the area where it is applied.

"But the newly produced substance is made of urea, calcium salt and a microbial solution, which is believed to be ecologically safe in many ways," Tabandeh said.

Considering the criticality of the growing problem of dust storms, the project was immediately financed by NIGEB and the laboratory equipment was provided by Tehran University's International Desert Research Center to accelerate the process.

"However, a bigger budget is needed to start mass production," the project executor said. Irrespective of the fact that they are caused by human-related activities or climate change, dust storms have been severely affecting the residents of southwestern regions. This has compelled the authorities, environmentalists and researchers to propose solutions.

 

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